Tufts University

Location: Medford, Massachusetts
Website: http://www.tufts.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Tufts University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • Tufts University: ‘Cox’ T-shirt

    May 3, 2012

    In April 2012, members of the men’s crew team wore T-shirts at Tufts’ Spring Fling featuring a silhouette of a rowing team on a boat and the phrase “check out our cox” (referring to a boat’s coxswain). According to multiple accounts, several members were suspended from the team after a bias incident report was submitted due to the shirt’s content, two senior captains were removed from their positions, and team members had to write apology letters. The accounts reported a dean exerting disciplinary pressure on the team, stating that the shirts promoted rape and aggression toward women. Additionally, a confidential […]

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  • Tufts University: Speech Code Controversy

    March 21, 2008

    After Tufts University found a student publication guilty of "harassment" for publishing two satirical articles, Tufts began work on a new free speech policy. Unfortunately, the resulting policy, a "Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Inquiry at Tufts University," fails to adequately protect freedom of expression at Tufts and will, in all likelihood, invite more censorship and uncertainty while discouraging robust debate, candor, and dissent. FIRE asked Tufts to revise its policy to truly protect free speech on campus, but it failed to do so. Meanwhile, Tufts remains on FIRE’s Red Alert list for being among the "worst of the worst" violators […]

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  • Tufts University: Conservative Student Journal Found Guilty of Harassment

    April 24, 2007

    In 2006, Tufts University’s conservative student newspaper The Primary Source (TPS) published a satirical Christmas carol titled “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” a parody of race-based college admissions. In April 2007, TPS ran a piece titled “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement that ridiculed Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” After students complained about the articles, Tufts’ Committee on Student Life found TPS guilty of harassment for having “targeted” black students and Muslims for “embarrassment.” The committee banned TPS from running anonymous items and recommended that the student government “consider the behavior of student groups” in future decisions about recognition and funding. FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union of […]

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  • Tufts University: Use of Sexual Harassment Allegations to Suppress Protected Speech

    November 27, 2001

    A hearing panel at Tufts University unanimously voted to dismiss charges of sexual harassment against a student newspaper that had satirized a campus student leader. The Primary Source, a student publication that describes itself as the “Journal of Conservative Thought at Tufts University,” turned to FIRE after an undergraduate student filed charges against the paper with both the Dean of Students and the Office of Equal Opportunity, claiming that a cartoon and written remarks in the journal of opinion had made her into a “sex object.” In response, FIRE wrote to the administration, reminding them of two prior free speech […]

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  • Tufts University: Refusal to Allow Evangelical Christian Club to Require Leaders to Share Group’s Beliefs

    May 16, 2000

    Tufts University’s Committee on Student Life voted to remand the charges against the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF). Without a hearing, in a capricious late-night meeting on April 13, 2000, the Student Judiciary voted officially to “derecognize” TCF, the equivalent of a banishment from the facilities of the Tufts campus. The Tufts evangelicals were punished for taking into account, for purposes of selecting leaders, the beliefs of a member whose views of Scripture and homosexuality were opposed to their own. TCF received pro-bono legal representation from FIRE President David French and a campaign from FIRE that involved writing and petitioning the […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Graduate Student Handbook: Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    When attitudes or opinions are expressed in words, e-mail, or behavior and constitute a threat, intimidation, verbal attack, or physical assault, it is harassment, which is prohibited at Tufts and may result in disciplinary consequences. Characterizing behavior as a prank or practical joke does not change its harassing nature if the subject of the joke is not a willing or active participant. Phone calls that individuals have stated are unwanted, misuse of message boards, e-mail messages, and other behaviors calculated to annoy, embarrass, or distress are harassing behavior and are prohibited.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Residents Bill of Rights 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility

    All residential students of Tufts University have the following rights: … The right to be free from fear of intimidation, physical and emotional harm.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies

    Some of the policies that collectively make up our code of conduct require: … Avoiding harassing, hazing or bullying behavior, including that using electronic resources and including that based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, ability, and ethnic or national origin.

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  • Reporting a Bias Incident 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    Bias Incident – any act directed against a person or property that includes the use of slurs or epithets expressing bias on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.

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  • Student Organization Resource Guide: Posting/Advertising 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    • No postings with profanity or explicit sexual material.
    • No defaming of groups or slurs because of sex, race, ethnic or religious identity or sexual orientation.

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  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility

    Members of the Tufts community owe one another the basic respect and ethical obligations of human beings engaged in a common endeavor. While not enjoying the force of law, these obligations reflect three basic community values: 1) respect for the freedom of other community members to inquire and express themselves fully; 2) the need to exercise freedom of expression and inquiry in ways thatrespect the human dignity of others; and 3) the importance of a climate at Tufts that is conducive to learning and in which all community members, regardless of background, are free from behavior that interferes with their ability to study, grow, and attain their full potential. Members of the university community, including academic and administrative leaders, must hold accountable those who do not respect these values.

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  • Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action: Sexual Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that involves unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature or conduct directed at a person because of his or her sex/gender when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, i.e. it is sufficiently serious, pervasive, or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment under both an objective (a reasonable person’s view) and subjective (the complainant’s view) standard.

    The following are some examples of conduct, particularly when unwelcome, which may constitute sexual harassment:

    •  sexual epithets or jokes; written or verbal references to sexual conduct; gossip regarding one’s sex life; comment on an individual’s body; comment about an individual’s sexual activity, experiences, deficiencies, or prowess;
    • displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, etc.;
    • unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments, threats, or innuendos of a sexual nature; …
    • gender harassment, including sexist statements and behavior that convey insulting, degrading, or sexist attitudes;
    • sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes regardless of the means of communication (verbal, written, email, text messages, etc.);
    • the display of inappropriate sexually oriented materials in a location where others can view them ….

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  • Student Organization Resource Guide: Special Security Needs Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes

    Any group planning to invite a speaker, high profile individual or group to the campus should take into account the safety of both the speaker and members of the audience. Serious consideration should be given to the safety of all individuals involved in the program. If other appearances by the speaker have prompted demonstrations, if there has been strong and vocal disagreement with the speaker’s views, if there has been disapproval by some community members to the speaker or topic, or if the speaker is from a country in the midst of hostilities, special preparations must be made to ensure that there will be a minimum security risk.

    Adequate preparation for a speaker requires at least three weeks’ notice. Groups planning to invite a speaker meeting the above criteria should plan ahead – certain programs may require more than three weeks.

    Adequate preparation for a speaker requires at least three weeks’ notice. Groups planning to invite a speaker meeting the above criteria should plan ahead – certain programs may require more than three weeks.

    The University is prepared to underwrite the costs of security for any program it deems as falling under this policy, but the availability of funding to cover security needs is limited. Once a particular organization has this type of event, that organization is ineligible for funding for another event of this nature for at least one semester.

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Green Light Policies
  • Federal Government Attacks Students’ Due Process Rights at Tufts University

    May 21, 2014

    By Hans Bader at Examiner.com Imagine if you could be expelled from your dorm, or prevented from attending a class, just because someone accused you of something — even if the accusation was so weak or thinly-grounded that it never even led to a formal investigation or disciplinary hearing against you, or the complainant was unwilling to even let you have the opportunity to clear your name. Such “interim measures” by colleges seem to be what the Education Department recently required of Tufts University in Massachusetts, as a condition of settling a Title IX investigation against it after it found a student not guilty of sexually assaulting a […]

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  • Governor McDonnell should defend religious freedom on Virginia campuses

    February 21, 2013

    In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ill-informed ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez called into question the right of student organizations at public universities to make decisions about membership and leadership by taking into account a student’s beliefs. The Court undermined America’s long tradition of ideological and religious pluralism by finding that so-called “all-comers” policies forbidding student groups from making belief-based decisions do not violate the First Amendment. The Virginia legislature has just sent a bill to Governor Bob McDonnell’s desk that would restore this right in the Old Dominion, thereby protecting students from the absurd results that the Martinez holding has made possible. In the Martinez case, a chapter of the […]

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  • Bill Allowing Christian Student Orgs to Choose Membership Advances in Va. Legislature

    February 11, 2013

    A bill that would allow religious and political student organizations in public institutions to choose their own standards for membership continues to make its way through the Virginia Legislature. Known as Senate Bill 1074, the proposed legislation would bar public educational institutions from determining the membership rules for religious and political student groups.   “Permits, to the extent allowed by law, religious or political student organizations at public institutions of higher education to determine that only persons committed to the organization’s mission may conduct certain activities,” reads the official summary of SB 1074.   “The bill also prohibits, to the extent allowed […]

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  • Colleges have free speech on the run

    November 30, 2012

     In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.” “Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief. The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan […]

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  • Free speech needs protection

    November 26, 2012

    Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, decried the state of First Amendment rights on college campuses in the Wall Street Journal last week. He cited several examples in which school administrations curtailed freedom of speech in order to avoid conflict. When Fordham University’s College Republicans invited the controversial conservative pundit Ann Coulter to speak on campus, the university’s president opposed the measure so forcefully that the group rescinded the invitation. When Tufts University students published excerpts from the Quran and facts about the status of women in Saudi Arabia during Islamic Awareness Week, the content […]

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  • Universities: “The Most Authoritarian Institution in America

    November 17, 2012

    In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, occasional COMMENTARY contributor Sohrab Ahmari distills an interview with Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The article really is a must-read. It begins: At Yale University, you can be prevented from putting an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on your T-shirt. At Tufts, you can be censured for quoting certain passages from the Quran. Welcome to the most authoritarian institution in America: the modern university—”a bizarre, parallel dimension,” as Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, calls it. A glance at FIRE’s top current cases shows just how serious the […]

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  • How Free Speech Died on Campus

    November 16, 2012

    At Yale University, you can be prevented from putting an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on your T-shirt. At Tufts, you can be censured for quoting certain passages from the Quran. Welcome to the most authoritarian institution in America: the modern university—”a bizarre, parallel dimension,” as Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, calls it. Mr. Lukianoff, a 38-year-old Stanford Law grad, has spent the past decade fighting free-speech battles on college campuses. The latest was last week at Fordham University, where President Joseph McShane scolded College Republicans for the sin of inviting Ann Coulter to speak.  […]

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  • Don’t speak: Report ranks 2012’s ‘Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ in the country

    April 2, 2012

    Last week, the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education released its second-annual “Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list. The Philadelphia-based nonprofit named 12 U.S. colleges and universities that, in its view, continue to impose limits on student speech — even after intense pressure from FIRE and others.  FIRE president Greg Lukianoff released the list on his Huffington Post blog.  Topping the dozen was the University of Cincinnati, due to a pending civil rights lawsuit filed against them by Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul-inspired activist group. In February, the officially sanctioned student organization was limited to a small “free […]

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  • The top 12 worst colleges for free speech

    March 28, 2012

    Who doesn’t love a good awards show? The gowns, the acceptance speeches, the brutal infringements of civil liberties … the excitement just never ends. Once again, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work), has sorted through the hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation that severely restrict the First Amendment rights of their students, and is ready to present a “dirty dozen” of colleges that have attacked freedom of speech with such zeal that we cannot help but (dis)honor them. While it was difficult to choose from such a wide talent pool, certain schools took our breath […]

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  • Outing Campus Censors in ‘U.S. News & World Report’

    August 31, 2010

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington post   Today, for the third year in a row, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, took out a full-page ad in the college rankings edition of U.S. News & World Report to highlight abuses of free speech on campus. This year, the ad focuses on the outrageous case of Andre Massena at SUNY Binghamton. We also prepared a short video about his case: While the complete details of Massena’s case would be enough for a full-length documentary or a feature article, a quick summary of the case goes like this: Andre […]

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  • Tufts Defines Speech Limits

    December 1, 2009

    Nearly three years after Tufts University drew headlines for a student journal’s publication of a racially charged article, trustees have declared that “freedom of expression and inquiry are not absolute.” The university’s “Declaration on Freedom of Expression” calls free speech “fundamental to the academic enterprise,” but outlines a series of broadly defined values that could limit what students can say and do. The statement notes, for example, that expression at Tufts should “respect the human dignity of others” and maintain a climate that does not interfere with students’ ability to “study, grow, and attain their full potential.” The declaration was […]

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  • The unpatriotic act

    June 9, 2008

    When people worry about their right to freedom of speech, they generally think about the government. Some hysterically point to the Patriot Act, for instance, as an infringement on our civil rights. Where’s the line of victims? Certainly we must always be wary of governments, especially when they say they’re here to help. But in truth, convention and the courts have done a pretty good job over the decades of protecting us from government censorship. Often, the threat to our freedom of speech comes from outside the government — particularly from political correctness. One of the most outrageous examples comes […]

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  • Northeastern, Tufts fail free speech exam

    December 30, 2007

    Tufts and Northeastern are among a group of Boston-area colleges whose policies on free speech earned them a tongue-lashing from a national campus watchdog group over the past year. The co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Cambridge attorney Harvey Silverglate, said “speech codes erode a university’s devotion to the core principle of higher education: the free and unfettered search for truth no matter where it leads.” Although many universities pride themselves on promoting free speech and fostering unfettered debate, many also have instituted policies that limit the ability of students to express controversial opinions, whatever they […]

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  • Partially free is better than partially pregnant

    August 29, 2007

    When the conservative student newspaper at Tufts University published two articles that some at the school considered racist, university president Lawrence Bacow urged the campus to remain calm and to consider the controversy a “teachable moment.” This week, Bacow reversed a joint student-faculty committee penalty against the newspaper, sending the message that if this free-speech teachable moment was graded, some at Tufts would’ve got an “F.” By the end of this past school year, emotions were running high on the Tufts campus. In December 2006, The Primary Source, a student-run “journal of conservative thought,” published a mock Christmas carol, titled “O, […]

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  • Defining free expression

    August 28, 2007

    Responding to a case involving controversial material that appeared in a student publication, the president of Tufts University said Monday that the private institution will give its students, faculty and staff the same right to free expression as their peers at public institutions. But some say a concurrent ruling by a top administrator in that case sends a contradictory message. In a written statement, Lawrence S. Bacow, the university’s president, said that while Tufts isn’t technically bound by First Amendment guarantees, “it is my intention to govern as president as if we were.” “Universities are places where people should have […]

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  • Byline requirement on Tufts journal lifted

    August 28, 2007

    A Tufts University dean on Monday reversed a campus board’s requirement that a student-run conservative journal include authors’ names with articles – a rule imposed after the magazine published an unbylined parody that many found racist. James Glaser, the private school’s dean of undergraduate education, said the byline requirement was an unfair restriction on free speech, a view echoed by Tufts President Lawrence Bacow in a statement issued before the start of a new school year. Glaser ruled on an appeal by the publication, The Primary Source, of a decision last spring by the Committee on Student Life. The panel, […]

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  • Tufts official says racial parody was harassing, hostile, and an exercise of free speech

    August 27, 2007

    A conservative magazine at Tufts University that was found to have harassed black students has successfully appealed a university ruling that would have required it to publish author bylines on all of its articles, the Associated Press reported. The byline requirement was imposed in May by a university judicial committee after the student-run magazine, The Primary Source, printed an anonymous parody of a Christmas carol called “O Come All Ye Black Folk” that many deemed racist but that defenders said was a legitimate satire on the university’s affirmative-action policies. To read the full story, please click here: http://chronicle.com/news/index.php?id=2929

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  • Byline requirement on conservative student journal lifted

    August 27, 2007

    Tufts University is taking a stand for freedom of expression. James Glaser, the private school’s dean of undergraduate education, today reversed a campus board’s requirement that a student-run conservative journal include authors’ names with articles. The rule was imposed last year after the magazine “The Primary Source” published an unbylined parody song that many said was racist. Glaser says the byline requirement was an unfair restriction on free speech. Tufts President Lawrence Bacow agreed. Glaser left intact a ruling that found “The Primary Source” guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment in violation of the school’s nondiscrimination policy.

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  • Is Mayor Bloomberg OK with being duped by Tufts University?

    August 2, 2007

    Two months ago, as president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), I wrote an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to inform him that he had been badly deceived. I’m still waiting for an answer. Back in May, Mayor Bloomberg delivered Tufts University’s commencement address. In the course of his speech, the Mayor praised Tufts for dealing with The Primary Source (TPS), a campus paper which had over the school year written articles that offended some students, without resorting to censorship or official punishment. Bloomberg said, “I think the students and the faculty and all of Tufts […]

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  • Tufts tops list of free-speech foes

    July 1, 2007

    After a year marked by controversial college free-speech cases, Tufts University landed itself on a dubious list organized by a First Amendment watchdog group that monitors U.S. campuses. The university’s reaction and punishment for two articles printed by The Primary Source, a student-run conservative magazine, earned Tufts top company with Johns Hopkins University on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s first “Red Alert” list of the “worst of the worst” offenders of speech rights. Last December, The Primary Source printed “Come All Ye Black Folk”—what the magazine maintained was a satirical Christmas carol about affirmative action at Tufts. Not […]

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  • And the award goes to…

    June 25, 2007

    As the founder and sole member of the Sheldon Award Society, I am dedicated to identifying the worst college president of each academic year. So far the presidents or chancellors of Berkeley, Georgetown, DePaul, and countless other universities have copped the Sheldon. Somewhat mysteriously, none offered to resign. The award is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except the Oscar features a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way. The award is named for Sheldon “Water Buffalo” Hackney, the former president of the University of […]

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  • CSL hearing turns spotlight on controversial Source pieces

    May 20, 2007

    Just hours after it was released on May 10, the Committee on Student Life’s (CSL) decision finding The Primary Source guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment was thrust into the national media. For many free speech experts, it seemed to land with a dull thud. “It’s very surprising, and troubling,” said Michael Hiestand, a Washington-based attorney and a consultant to the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit organization that offers legal guidance to campus media. “It really does open up the door to a great deal of administrative interference in what are typically very strong free speech […]

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  • The PC enforcers

    May 18, 2007

    At Tufts University, a disciplinary board sternly rebuked a liberal student publication for printing a satire of Christian hypocrisy. The board ruled the matter a punishable case of “harassment” that created “a hostile environment” for Christian students. Something rings false about this “news” item, doesn’t it? Actually, the board came down in full, righteous fury against a conservative publication at Tufts for a satire of Islamic hypocrisy. There. That has more of a ring of familiarity and truth to it, does it not? It’s more in keeping with academia’s lockstep, herd-thinking, rigorously PC tendencies these days, wouldn’t you say? The […]

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  • Tufts University: Hostile environment for free thought

    May 17, 2007

    In April, Tufts University in Boston held an “Islamic Awareness Week.” As is well known the purpose of various “awareness” weeks and months is the indoctrination of “correct” thinking on the subject being singled out for this treatment. It is highly unlikely that there are any students at Tufts not already aware of Islam’s existence. The point of Tufts’ awareness week is to provide faculty and administrators with an excuse to promote the Politically Correct version of the “Religion of Peace.” For proof one need look no further that Tufts’ treatment of student dissenters to the university’s Party Line. The […]

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  • Well shut my mouth!

    May 16, 2007

    Are today’s college students thinner-skinned than were previous generations? That may be the sad truth emerging from Tufts and Brandeis Universities, where campus ideologues and their faculty enablers are purging student publications that used parody to comment on religious and race-relations issues. The real danger, of course, is not that today’s students are emotionally frail, but that they are willing to sacrifice freedom of speech and academic freedom to protect themselves from mere offense, never mind intellectual challenges. On May 10, a Tufts student-faculty judiciary board found the student-editors of conservative student magazine the Primary Source guilty of “harassment” and […]

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  • Campus Alert: Don’t joke at Tufts

    May 14, 2007

    A disciplinary board at Tufts University in Massachusetts has found the conservative student publication “The Primary Source” guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” for publishing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students. One ridiculed Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week” by highlighting instances of Islamic brutality, such as Islamic countries’ oppression of women and homosexuals and a quote from the Koran that that instructs believers to “strike off [the] heads and strike off every fingertip” of disbelievers. Tufts declared that this article “targeted” Muslim students. The other was a satirical Christmas carol printed last December called “Oh Come All […]

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  • Tufts case called hit to speech

    May 14, 2007

    A campus magazine at Tufts University has been found guilty of “harassment” by a disciplinary board, a decision that could establish “a terrifying precedent,” according to an academic-freedom group. The Primary Source, a conservative monthly published by Tufts students, commemorated “Islamic Awareness Week” last month on the Medford, Mass., campus with a full-page “supplement” headlined “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” that cited facts about Muslim history. That unsigned article, along with a satirical “Christmas carol” in the magazine’s December issue mocking the university’s affirmative-action program, was cited as a violation of Tufts’s “nondiscrimination policy.” “From now on, all material published in the […]

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  • Campus Alert: Free speech on trial

    April 30, 2007

    Free speech is on trial today at Tufts University in Massachusetts. This afternoon, the editors of “The Primary Source,” a conservative student publication, will go before the school’s student judiciary panel to answer charges leveled against the paper by other students. The charges at the disciplinary hearing include “harassment” and “breach of community standards.” The actual “crimes”? Satirical articles published in TPS in the past few months—specifically, a Christmas carol parody lampooning race-based admissions policies (“O Come All Ye Black Folk”) and an Islamic Awareness Week article focusing on the religion’s fundamentalist fringe (“The seven nations in the world that […]

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  • Campus Left to Christians, Conservatives: Shut Up!

    December 24, 2005

    By Mark Tapscott at Townhall.com Scratch many of the administrators in charge on American campuses these days and you often find a neo-Stalinist who has no hesitation about suppressing views that deviate from leftist orthodoxy. If you doubt me, try supporting Christianity or conservatism in a public way in the ivy covered groves of American academe. Take California State University at San Bernadino, for example, where administrators refuse to charter the Christian Students Association because the group thinks its members should be professing Christians. Imagine that! The group ‘would not be required to admit members who did not support the […]

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  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

    David French knows what intimidation is. French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general […]

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  • Academic freedom ever important

    April 11, 2005

    Besides really irritating a lot of people, University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s essay on the causes of the World Trade Center attacks has put a media spotlight on the issue of freedom of expression on college campuses. This in itself is a very good thing. Whatever one’s opinion of the content of Churchill’s essay (and some of the logic does sound highly suspect to me), he was well within his rights to release a controversial analysis of the attacks into the academic community. This ability to participate in an unrestricted exchange of ideas is called academic freedom, and it […]

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  • Campus Christians: not always at ease

    January 25, 2005

    When Chris Gruener moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin graduate school, he looked forward to experiencing the region’s renowned tolerance of all people and lifestyles. Mr. Gruener was raised in a devout Christian family near Seattle and attended a Baptist high school and a Christian college, where he studied business. His passion, however, was literature, and so he was excited to begin a master’s program in English at Sonoma State University. But during his first semester, a classroom incident put a damper on Gruener’s ardor. While lecturing on James Joyce’s rejection of the church, a professor drew […]

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  • Free Press 101

    December 1, 2003

    By Erich Wasserman at Arbiter Online

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  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Chronicle of Higher Education

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  • Due Process and Clarity Suffer in Feds’ Push to Address Campus Sexual Assault

    May 1, 2014

    Like many others, I grew up watching the shows produced by Boston PBS megastation WGBH. I was therefore excited to have an op-ed column published by that station today about the due process and clarity problems presented by the recommendations in Tuesday’s report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

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  • Boring Campuses: Not Just the Fault of Helicopter Parents

    April 16, 2014

    In a new article, Slate’s Rebecca Schuman laments the phenomenon of colleges and universities becoming toned-down, less playful, even boring. Schuman argues that this is in part due to parents over-planning their kids’ lives, leaving them incapable of finding creative ways to have fun when they’re older and on their own: A recent trip back to my beloved alma mater, Vassar—combined with my interactions with students where I teach and some disappointing sleuthing—has made it apparent that much of the unstructured free play at college seems to have disappeared in favor of pre-professional anxiety, coupled with the nihilistic, homogeneous partying […]

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  • Three Reasons to Debate, Not Silence, Opposing Views

    November 1, 2013

    Today in The Huffington Post, Michael Meyers, executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, shared a letter he wrote to the Brown University community about New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s policies and about Brown students’ preventing Kelly from speaking at the school Tuesday night. While expressing strong disagreement with Kelly’s policies, Meyers contrasted students’ attitudes with those of students in the free speech movement of the 1960s: [S]tudents back then protested university regulations that had restricted outside political speakers. So, it is more than ironic, then — indeed, it is unnerving and appalling — that, in 2013, when free […]

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  • Four Key Points About Free Speech and the Feds’ ‘Blueprint’

    July 15, 2013

    It’s been more than two months since FIRE and the higher ed community were shocked by a letter issued jointly by the Departments of Education and Justice to the University of Montana. FIRE staff have blogged extensively about the Departments’ “blueprint” for campus sexual harassment in the last 10 weeks, but there are four crucial points that I believe bear special emphasis. 1. Overbroad and vague harassment rationales have been the primary justification and legal theorybehind campus speech codes since the 1980s.  In one sense, the attempt to stretch the definition of harassment beyond all recognition is nothing new. Speech codes came into vogue on campuses […]

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  • 16th Annual ‘Campus Muzzle’ Awards Feature Yale, Tufts, Harvard

    June 27, 2013

    The “Muzzles” live! The 16th annual “Campus Muzzle” Awards, previously featured in the now-sadly-defunct Boston Phoenix, have found a new home this year on WGBH News online, as well as in the Portland Phoenix. FIRE co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate awards the Campus Muzzles each year to the worst universities in New England for First Amendment rights. (Harvey’s Campus Muzzles are a sidebar to Dan Kennedy’s Muzzle Awards, which feature his selection of the worst free speech violators off-campus in New England.)  This year, Yale University “wins” for its disturbing disregard for free speech on its new overseas campus in […]

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  • Tufts Christian Fellowship Gives Up on Recognition

    March 25, 2013

      Photo: Goddard Chapel – Tufts University Wikimedia Commons FIRE has some lamentable news out of Tufts University, as the Tufts Christian Fellowship has given up its quest for recognition by declining to apply for an exception to the university’s “all-comers”-style student group policy. The existence of the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) on campus has actually been threatened since 2000, when, in one of FIRE’s earliest cases, FIRE helped the group maintain its recognition.  The Supreme Court’s misguided decision in 2010’s Christian Legal Society v. Martinez stated that public universities do not violate the First Amendment by requiring all recognized […]

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  • Can Tufts Handle Religious Pluralism?

    December 11, 2012

    The Tufts University community is facing a growing struggle over the existence of the Tufts Christian Fellowship as a recognized student group on campus. At stake is the ability of Tufts students to organize around shared religious beliefs—and, more broadly, whether the Tufts campus still accepts the American conception of religious pluralism.  There are three sides in this fight. First is the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF), a chapter of the national student organization InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. TCF wishes to be able to select its leaders based on their beliefs and exclude from leadership those who do not share the group’s […]

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  • ACLU Executive Director Delivers Blistering Critique of Campus Speech Codes

    November 20, 2012

    In an important speech about civil liberties on university campuses delivered last week to an audience at Tufts University, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero defended free speech on university campuses. As covered by Josh Weiner of The Tufts Daily, the lecture, titled “Sticks and Stones: Freedom of Expression and Political Correction,” addressed a wide variety of ways free speech is threatened by universities.  Romero said that his disdain for censorship, particularly on university campuses, stems from the fact that colleges and universities are places “where students foster many fresh ideas and where many landmark movements—including Occupy Wall Street, the anti-Vietnam […]

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  • Tufts President Responds to FIRE in ‘Cox’ Case

    May 10, 2012

    Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco has replied to FIRE’s letter of May 2 regarding the suspension of several members of the Tufts men’s crew team due to their “check out our cox” T-shirts. In an email to FIRE, Monaco states that the Tufts administration (at least from the decanal level or above) did not pressure the coaching staff to take action. If we learn any new, credible information to the contrary, we will report it. President Monaco also wrote:  I can assure you that our coaches share with Tufts University and me a strong commitment to the principle of […]

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  • Victory at Tufts after Crew Team Members Suspended for ‘Cox’ T-shirts

    May 4, 2012

    Facing a rising tide of criticism and intervention from FIRE, Tufts University President Tony Monaco reinstated the suspended members of the men’s crew team late on Thursday, just in time for this weekend’s New England Rowing Championships. After the members wore T-shirts reading “check out our cox” (referring to a team’s coxswain), the university had suspended them, pressed as many as four team captains to resign, and asked the members to deliver apologies for the “offense” caused by the T-shirts. Kudos to President Monaco for honoring Tufts’ commitment to free speech. As I described yesterday in The Huffington Post, the […]

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  • Censorship of ‘Cox’ T-shirt Creates Waves of Outrage as FIRE Intervenes

    May 3, 2012

    My FIRE colleague (and Tufts University alumna) Alison Meyer blogged yesterday about a fast-developing controversy at Tufts, where the men’s crew team has been punished for a rather tame double entendre printed on a T-shirt for Spring Fling (below). All involved rowers have been barred from rowing in this weekend’s New England Championships, and two senior captains have been removed from their positions. The “cox” in question is, of course, a reference to the crew team’s coxswain. Nonetheless, the T-shirt was reported to Tufts under the university’s bias incident policy, which allows complaints to be submitted anonymously, and a Tufts […]

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  • Tufts Crew Team Punished for ‘Check Out Our Cox’ T-Shirts

    May 3, 2012

    by Adam Kissel The Huffington Post   Every year at Tufts, student groups design T-shirts to celebrate Spring Fling. This year, members of the crew team were punished because their T-shirts said “check out our cox”. Members of the team aren’t talking publicly, but we think we know what happened. First, someone filed a “bias incident” report at Tufts, and then a dean actually took it seriously and notified the coaches. This is sad to begin with. Puns flourish on late-night talk shows and on college campuses (and in Shakespeare for that matter), but college administrators all too easily lose their sense […]

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  • Tufts Cuts Off ‘Cox’ T-shirt

    May 2, 2012

    The administration of Tufts University, whose infamy for disregarding the basic rights of its students and faculty members has landed the college a spot on FIRE’s Red Alert list, has added another incident to its roster of abuses. This time, allegedly under disciplinary pressure from a dean, the director of Tufts’ men’s crew team not only suspended the entire team from racing at a championship event scheduled for this weekend, but also removed two students from the position of captain-all because of this T-shirt:  The crew team had created this T-shirt for the school’s annual “Spring Fling,” an outdoor concert. […]

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  • Tufts Student Government: For Freedom of Expression, ‘Now and Forever’

    April 16, 2012

    Tufts University, a longtime member of FIRE’s Red Alert list and one of the 12 Worst Colleges for free speech, has ample room for progress when it comes to respecting the fundamental rights of its students and faculty members. Highlighting Tufts’ record of suppressing speech again and again, as well as maintaining overly restrictive speech codes, FIRE has urged the administration to pursue comprehensive reform-and it seems we’re not the only ones. In response to Tufts’ distinction as one of the “dirty dozen,” student Jon Danzig (a member of FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network) co-authored and co-sponsored a resolution within the […]

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  • Student: Tufts Must Improve Free Speech Record

    April 11, 2012

    Last week, Tufts University student newspaper The Primary Source lamented Tufts’ placement on FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech as well as its poor recent history with respect to freedom of speech. The editor’s piece (PDF; see page 4) explores the issues that have caused Tufts to languish on FIRE’s Red Alert list, reserved for the “worst of the worst” when it comes to liberty on campus, and to find itself on the “Worst Colleges” list for the second straight year. Of course, The Primary Source knows all too well exactly what Tufts has done to earn these […]

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  • ‘12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ List in the News

    March 30, 2012

    Tuesday, The Huffington Post released FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012. In addition to the social media storm the story generated, the list caught the attention of a number of media outlets:  University of Cincinnati’s appearance at the top of the list garnered the attention of Cincinnati City Beat. In “UC Gets Drawn into Free Speech Battle,” University of Cincinnati spokesman Greg Hand mischaracterizes the school’s “free speech zone” policy, so FIRE responded to his claim here. Syracuse, New York, press Syracuse.com, CNYCentral.com, and WSYR-TV (Channel 9 in Syracuse) have noted Syracuse University’s placement […]

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  • FIRE’s 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012

    March 27, 2012

    Here’s today’s press release:  PHILADELPHIA, March 27, 2012—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its 2012 list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in The Huffington Post today. Harvard is new to the list this year, joining Yale, Syracuse, and the University of Cincinnati at the top of the list. “These colleges and universities have deeply violated the principles that are supposed to animate higher education,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Sunlight is one of the best disinfectants, and the public needs to know which schools to watch out for.”  Although schools appear on the list in no particular […]

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  • FIRE’s Erica Goldberg in ‘The Tufts Daily’ on Censorship at Tufts

    February 17, 2011

    FIRE’s Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow and Tufts alumna Erica Goldberg has an op-ed column in today’s Tufts Daily. Erica’s op-ed responds to two articles published earlier this week in the Daily that take FIRE to task for placing Tufts on our Huffington Post list of the 12 worst colleges for freedom of speech. Erica’s column cuts right to the heart of why the impulse of so many at Tufts to allow “free speech” as long as it is not “hate speech” is both unworkable and a bad idea. Erica’s column, reprinted from the Tufts Daily in full below, […]

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  • Tufts’ Reaction to Placement on ’12 Worst’ List Validates FIRE’s Choice

    February 14, 2011

    The administrative response to FIRE’s placement of Tufts University on our list of “The 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” in The Huffington Post further demonstrates why student expression is in jeopardy at Tufts. An article published Friday in the Tufts student newspaper The Tufts Daily discusses the list and explores the university’s troubled record of interfering with free expression on campus. This history includes Tufts finding the conservative student newspaper The Primary Source responsible for “harassment” for its controversial pieces on affirmative action and Islamic extremism. The Tufts Daily article quotes Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman, who vehemently disagreed […]

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  • FIRE in ‘The Huffington Post’ on America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech

    January 27, 2011

    Today, The Huffington Post published FIRE’s list of America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech. An expansion of FIRE’s Red Alert List of the “worst of the worst” schools for student and faculty rights, this “dirty dozen” slideshow includes the schools that come onto FIRE’s radar screen again and again for their repeated and egregious violations of fundamental rights, as well as schools whose policies are so bad that they simply had to be included. For longtime Torch readers, the presence of most of these schools on our list won’t come as a surprise. But we don’t want to give it all away here. Is […]

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  • Still Looking for a New Year’s Resolution, Red Alert Schools?

    January 14, 2010

    Here’s an easy New Year’s resolution that Brandeis University, Bucknell University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Tufts University can make: get off of FIRE’s Red Alert list of America’s worst violators of campus liberty! This week, FIRE sent the presidents of each of the six Red Alert schools a letter reminding them of their schools’ serious and ongoing violations of student and faculty rights, and just how easy it is for each of them to remedy their mistakes and reaffirm their commitment to freedom of expression. FIRE also included with each letter a copy of the […]

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  • FIRE 2010 U.S. News Letter to Tufts President Bacow

    January 7, 2010

    January 7, 2010 President Lawrence S. Bacow Office of the President Tufts University Ballou Hall, Second Floor Medford, Massachusetts 02155 Re: The Primary Source case and FIRE’s Red Alert list Dear President Bacow: I am writing to draw your attention to the full-page advertisement that FIRE ran in the most recent “America’s Best Colleges” issue of U.S. News & World Report. The advertisement appears on page 89, immediately adjacent to the rankings of the top 100 national universities, in the same position our advertisement appeared last year. We have enclosed a copy of the issue for your information. FIRE plans […]

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  • Tufts ‘Declaration on Freedom of Expression’ Misunderstands the Concept

    December 1, 2009

    Last month, the Tufts University Board of Trustees approved its “Declaration on Freedom of Expression at Tufts University.” Unfortunately, what Tufts touts as an attempt to harmonize the values of free expression and respecting others’ feelings is a transparent rejection of controversial speech.   Tufts’ declaration claims that it supports “freedom of expression and inquiry as fundamental to the academic enterprise” yet outlines “obligations” to exercise that freedom “in ways that respect the human dignity of others.” This facile statement was recognized by several sources as an attempt to limit free speech on campus. Today’s article in Inside Higher Ed […]

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  • How Can Tufts University Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?

    August 25, 2009

    FIRE’s full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report, right next to the annual college rankings, exposes the colleges and universities that have acted so poorly regarding individual rights on campus that FIRE is warning students to think twice before they apply and put their rights at risk. (Here is last year’s ad.) Brandeis University, Bucknell University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Tufts University are very unsafe when it comes to student and faculty rights. Please follow the links above for more information—if you have not encountered college censorship before, you’ll be amazed by what you […]

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  • FIRE’s Biggest Ad Campaign Ever Hits ‘U.S. News’

    August 25, 2009

    For the second year in a row, FIRE has run a full-page advertisement in U.S. News & World Report‘s America’s Best Colleges issue, released today, highlighting the colleges and universities that have earned FIRE’s Red Alert distinction for being the “worst of the worst” when it comes to liberty on campus. Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Tufts University are listed in the print ad, while Bucknell University, a late addition to the list, will be prominently featured in Facebook ads and in the school’s own newspaper.  But that’s not all—in the coming weeks, FIRE will also run ads in U.S. News‘ bestselling guidebook, every Red Alert school’s newspaper, and the papers of the top 25 largest and most prestigious universities in the nation, […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Tyranny at Tufts

    May 19, 2009

    This May marks the two-year anniversary of a case that is etched into our memories as one of the most outrageous we’ve ever had. Tufts University’s punishment of the conservative student newspaper The Primary Source for parody and satire was, and remains, indefensible. The Primary Source hadn’t made any friends at Tufts by the time they released their article “Islam: Arabic Translation: Submission.” A few months earlier, in December of 2006, the paper published their annual Christmas carol parody entitled “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” which mocked the school’s affirmative action policy. Realizing that the carol had offended large […]

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  • FIRE Featured in Two Articles in the ‘Boston Herald’

    February 2, 2009

    In yesterday’s edition of the Boston Herald, FIRE was fortunate enough to be the subject of two separate articles. The first featured FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate and his quest to land a spot on Harvard University’s Board of Overseers—something we have been championing since his bid was announced back in December. As quoted in the Herald, Harvey explains why he wants to join the board: “I hope to make Harvard a better place,” said Silverglate, a Harvard Law School grad, who needs 219 signatures from Harvard degree-holders to appear on the ballot. “It saddens me that Harvard persists in having, […]

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  • FIRE Pens Open Letter to President Obama

    January 20, 2009

    This Inauguration Day, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has sent President Barack Obama an open letter requesting that, as a scholar of constitutional law and the leader of the nation’s executive branch, he and his administration join the fight against college and university speech codes that are infringing on the rights of millions of our nation’s college students. As Greg says in today’s press release: Millions of American students are being taught that colleges have the power to censor and punish speech that the Bill of Rights protects … Failing to educate an entire generation about our constitutional […]

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  • 2008 Highlights: FIRE Places Full-Page Ad in ‘U.S. News & World Report’ Calling Out ‘Red Alert’ Schools

    December 31, 2008

    While FIRE works on cases from hundreds of schools in a given year, we have a special list for those schools that have shown unique intransigence in the face of criticism from FIRE for abusing student and faculty rights. We call that special list our Red Alert list, and right now five schools have earned a spot among the “worst of the worst.”  This summer, we decided to step up our campaign for reform at Red Alert schools by running a full-page ad in the 2009 edition of U.S. News & World Report‘s all-important America’s Best Colleges issue, right next […]

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  • Comment Period on Tufts Freedom of Expression Policy Comes to a Close

    October 20, 2008

    Last Friday, the public comment period for Tufts University’s Draft Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Inquiry ended. FIRE believes this draft is highly deficient and poses a serious threat to free expression at Tufts, and on October 7th, FIRE issued a detailed statement listing our concerns. Tufts is, of course, a private university so it is not directly bound by the First Amendment. But as we ask in our statement, even though Tufts may choose to place certain values above free speech, should they? Our answer: A private college or university may, if it chooses, adopt policies that reject […]

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  • As Tufts Faculty Discuss Free Expression, Remember Yale’s Woodward Report

    October 8, 2008

    Today, faculty members at Tufts University are discussing the draft Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Inquiry, which is open for feedback until October 17. As faculty members consider their response, we encourage them to carefully consider FIRE’s comment and objections, including a recommendation that Tufts take its cues from one of the strongest statements on free expression available, the 1974 Woodward Report from Yale University. Here is the executive summary of our comment, which we distributed yesterday to Tufts’ Task Force on Freedom of Expression and other members of the Tufts community. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The draft Declaration on Freedom […]

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  • FIRE Officially Comments on Tufts’ Draft Free Speech Declaration

    October 7, 2008

    Since last year, FIRE has been fighting a protracted battle for liberty at Tufts University after the school found a conservative student publication, The Primary Source, guilty of “harassment” for publishing two articles: the first, a satire of affirmative action, and the second, a satirical advertisement ridiculing Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” While the university overturned its original punishment of the publication, the bogus “harassment” finding remains—earning Tufts a place on FIRE’s Red Alert list of the “worst of the worst” campuses in the country when it comes to defending individual rights. While Tufts President Lawrence Bacow undoubtedly would have liked […]

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  • Back to School: Remember FIRE’s Red Alert List

    September 9, 2008

    Students going back to school should be aware of the institutions that demonstrate a blatant disregard for their students’ rights. FIRE’s Red Alert list, recently featured in a full-page ad in the 2009 “America’s Best Colleges” edition of U.S. News and World Report, is a list of the “worst of the worst” when it comes to respect for students’ rights. These institutions egregiously violated their students’ rights and, despite having been informed of their wrongdoing, still refuse to admit and redress the harm they have caused. Below is a list of the Red Alert schools, what they did to get […]

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  • How Can Tufts University Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?

    August 28, 2008

    To continue our series on how the five Red Alert schools named in our U.S. News advertisement can get themselves off the list, today we discuss the situation at Tufts University (we have blogged about how Colorado College, Brandeis University, and Valdosta State University). As you can see, Tufts University is a repeat offender against the principles of liberty on campus, with no less than four separate FIRE cases to its name, including three between 2000 and 2001, when FIRE was still new. Unfortunately, during the intervening years between 2001 and 2006, when the first hint arose of the controversy […]

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  • FIRE Exposes Unrepentant Abusers of Liberty in ‘U.S. News’ College Rankings Issue

    August 25, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, August 25, 2008—The 2009 edition of U.S. News and World Report‘s America’s Best Colleges issue, released today, includes a full-page advertisement from FIRE highlighting the five colleges and universities that have earned FIRE’s Red Alert distinction for being the “worst of the worst” when it comes to liberty on campus. Students should think twice before choosing to attend Red Alert schools, which include Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, and Valdosta State University. “Every year, millions of students and parents turn to U.S. News and World Report to see the latest college rankings,” said FIRE President […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Tufts University

    June 2, 2008

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for June 2008: Tufts University. Tufts already has the dubious distinction of a spot on FIRE’s Red Alert List, which is reserved for colleges and universities that display the utmost disregard for their students’ individual rights. Tufts earned its Red Alert status after finding last spring that The Primary Source (TPS), a conservative student newspaper, violated the school’s harassment policy by publishing two satirical articles mocking affirmative action and Islamic fundamentalism. It is that harassment policy that has now earned Tufts the ignominy of being named Speech Code of the Month for […]

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  • Tufts University: So Close, But Yet So Far

    December 27, 2007

    As we wrap up 2007 FIRE is proud to have scored victory after victory at universities across the country, but if there’s one case that frustrated me more than any other this year it is the ongoing saga at Tufts University. As loyal Torch readers know, in April Tufts found a conservative student publication guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for publishing political satire. Despite explicitly promising to protect controversial and offensive expression in its policies, the Tufts Committee on Student Life decided to punish The Primary Source for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students […]

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  • As President Bacow Continues to Stonewall, John Leo Blasts Tufts

    December 14, 2007

    Last week, FIRE wrote Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow to ask him again why a verdict declaring conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS) guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” still stands―despite the fact that Bacow himself has openly admitted that such a punishment could not stand under the First Amendment. We explained to President Bacow (again) that the only way for Tufts University to shed the dishonor of being one of three schools named to FIRE’s Red Alert list―reserved for schools FIRE deems “the worst of the worst” when it comes to protecting rights on campus―was by […]

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  • FIRE to Tufts: Drop the Guilty Finding, Get Off Red Alert List

    December 5, 2007

    The letter FIRE sent out this morning to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and the Tufts Board of Trustees makes absolutely clear what the school must do to end its embarrassing tenure on FIRE’s Red Alert list: Immediately drop the remaining finding of “guilty” against conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS), which Tufts charged with creating a “hostile environment” and “harassment” for publishing two satirical articles. Torch readers will no doubt recall the shameful saga that has led FIRE to write Tufts for a third time to issue this request. But if your memory needs refreshing, here’s a quick […]

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  • David Ross Responds to Tufts

    August 31, 2007

    FIRE friend and Rochester Institute of Technology Professor David Ross, and those like him, are essential to FIRE’s work. After receiving a FIRE press release, Dr. Ross always forwards it to the appropriate university president and carbon copies dozens of academics across the country. He sends a simply query: is this true? And if so, could you explain your actions and reasoning? If Dr. Ross finds the president’s response wanting, he gives a rebuttal and asks for further explanation or for a change of course. After FIRE’s latest press release regarding Tufts’ half measures to alleviate the illiberal and wrongful […]

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  • Tufts Frustrates Students’ Wish for Dialogue

    August 31, 2007

    Despite Tufts President Lawrence Bacow’s happy talk on freedom of speech at Tufts (which, as Harvey and Jan mention in Emily’s entry from yesterday, is not exactly backed up by action), there still appears to be dissatisfaction among Tufts’ students about how the whole situation with The Primary Source has been handled. And I’m not just talking about the students who write for TPS—who, although the punishment has now been rescinded, are still officially “harassers” according to Tufts’ Committee on Student Life (CSL). (Regarding this committee, Bacow said, “In retrospect, I think that the CSL was ill-advised to hear this […]

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  • Tufts University Case in ‘The Phoenix’

    August 30, 2007

    FIRE cofounder Harvey A. Silverglate and Jan Wolfe published a piece in yesterday’s edition of The Phoenix commenting on recent developments at Tufts University. Torch readers are undoubtedly familiar with the latest developments at Tufts: Even though University President Lawrence Bacow issued a statement affirming First Amendment protections at the private institution, the school’s harassment finding against a conservative student publication for printing satire still stands. Echoing our statements in yesterday’s press release, Harvey and Jan write: While Bacow and Glaser should be commended for their eloquent defense of the First Amendment, it’s puzzling that they have not reversed the […]

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  • Progress for Freedom of Speech at Tufts

    August 29, 2007

    FIRE’s press release today announces that our efforts to revive free speech at Tufts University have finally yielded some real progress. Throughout the past year, Tufts made a mockery of free speech by finding the conservative student newspaper The Primary Source (TPS) guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for printing two satirical articles about race-based admissions and militant Islam. Tufts’ decisions to proceed with a hearing on these charges, to find the paper guilty, and to impose sanctions that placed the paper’s existence in jeopardy—all while paying lip service to the significance of free speech in the university […]

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  • Tufts University Makes Progress on Free Speech, but Wrongful Harassment Finding Remains

    August 29, 2007

    BOSTON, August 29, 2007—Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow took a significant, positive step this week by pledging that Tufts students will now enjoy the fullest protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the administration failed to overturn a wrongful harassment finding against the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, for publishing clearly protected political satire. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) spearheaded the defense of the student paper after Tufts punished it for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students on campus, and is calling upon Tufts to fully exonerate the paper. “While President Bacow’s statement […]

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  • FIRE Commentary on Mayor Bloomberg and Tufts in ‘The Huffington Post’

    August 3, 2007

    Check out Greg’s latest piece on The Huffington Post on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s public praise for Tufts University’s behavior in The Primary Source (TPS) case. When Bloomberg delivered Tufts University’s commencement address back in May, he commended the university for not exercising censorship over the controversial student publication The Primary Source, stating, “I think the students and the faculty and all of Tufts University deserve an enormous amount of respect because you respected the rights of others to express themselves.” If you just did a double take after reading that comment, you’re not alone. Not only did […]

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  • FIRE Writes to Tufts Again About Erroneous ‘Harassment’ Finding

    July 31, 2007

    Today, FIRE sent a second letter to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and the Tufts Board of Trustees regarding Tufts’ punishment of the conservative paper The Primary Source (TPS). As FIRE’s followers will recall, a university panel found that TPS was guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” for printing a Christmas carol that mocked affirmative action last December and a satirical article about “Islamic Awareness Week” in April. In addition to pointing out that Tufts makes a mockery of a defined legal term by dubbing TPS’ opinionated, satirical articles “harassment,” FIRE’s letter today also emphasized that both Tufts’ […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and Tufts Board of Trustees, July 31, 2007

    July 31, 2007

    July 31, 2007 President Lawrence S. Bacow Ballou Hall Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts 02155 Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (617-627-3300) Dear President Bacow: FIRE is disappointed to write to you once again to express our continuing concern about Tufts University’s punishment of the student journal The Primary Source (TPS). We note with dismay that, despite receipt of FIRE’s April 24 letter and numerous public admonitions, Tufts has yet to reverse its ruling that TPS’ December 2006 and April 2007 issues constituted harassment and created a hostile environment for Tufts students. As we stated in our previous letter, neither TPS’ […]

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  • When the Truth is Too Outrageous to Parody

    July 24, 2007

    The following entry was authored by FIRE summer intern Braum Katz, a rising sophomore at the College of William and Mary. In my freshman year of college, I became involved with The Pillory, William and Mary’s only satire and humor magazine. As expected, our first staff meeting consisted of an obligatory discussion on standards of decency in the parodies we would produce. Our editor-in-chief, a humorist wholly convinced of the power of satire, relayed a story that for the first time demonstrated how dangerously “chilled” satirical writing has become on college campuses. In turn, I will relay it here. At […]

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  • ‘The Washington Times’ Targets Tufts’ Ban of Unsigned Editorials

    July 6, 2007

    The Washington Times editorial yesterday highlighted an important aspect of FIRE’s recent case at Tufts University. The Primary Source, a conservative student paper at Tufts, was punished for publishing two satirical articles parodying affirmative action and “Islamic Awareness Week.” As punishment, The Primary Source is not allowed to publish anonymous articles, a long standing tradition of a free press. Far from being an effort by the paper to avoid responsibility for the content of an article, anonymous editorials represent statements made by the entire editorial staff, who together accept all the responsibility such an editorial entails. The Washington Times writes: […]

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  • Tufts Awarded ‘Muzzle Award’

    July 5, 2007

    The Boston Phoenix has announced its 10th Annual Muzzle Awards. Inspired by FIRE co-founder and Board Chairman Harvey Silverglate, the Muzzle Awards are based on news accounts of freedom-of-expression stories in New England within the last year. One of the recipients of this dubious distinction is Tufts University, where a student-faculty disciplinary panel found the editors of The Primary Source, an independent student newspaper, guilty of harassment for publishing two articles offensive to some students on campus. Author Dan Kennedy points out that even if one grants that the articles were racist and genuinely offensive, they still fall under the […]

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  • John Leo’s 2007 Sheldon Awards: Tufts Leads the Pack

    June 25, 2007

    John Leo, nationally syndicated columnist and tireless critic of campus PC, has announced his Sheldon Awards for 2007 in today’s New York Sun. The Sheldon is “named for Sheldon ‘Water Buffalo’ Hackney, the former president of the University of Pennsylvania,” and is “dedicated to identifying the worst college president of each academic year.” Leading the pack is: The president of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow, [who] looked the other way when a student-faculty committee put a conservative Tufts publication on trial for publishing two parodies. One was a mock Christmas carol making fun of racial preferences in college admissions, the other […]

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  • FIRE Launches ‘Red Alert’ List of Worst Offenders Against Liberty

    June 18, 2007

    Today FIRE is unveiling a new tool in our fight for liberty on America’s college and university campuses: FIRE’s Red Alert. Red Alert is our newly developed list of campuses that pose an ongoing and serious threat to the rights of current and future students and faculty. FIRE deals with some horrendous offenses against liberty on a daily basis, and even FIRE’s least serious case is an enormous problem for the person or group involved, as well as for the academic environment at the college or university where the abuse is taking place. But even so, some schools seem to […]

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  • ACLU Writes Letter to Tufts in Defense of ‘The Primary Source’

    June 12, 2007

    Tufts University got some added encouragement to reverse its decision against the conservative student journal The Primary Source (TPS) when the ACLU of Massachusetts weighed in by writing a letter to President Lawrence Bacow and Dean of Undergraduate Education James Glaser, who will oversee TPS’ appeal. Sarah Wunsch, who signed the ACLU’s letter, wrote: While the ACLU of Massachusetts does not condone or agree with the views expressed in [the December 2006 and April 2007 issues of TPS], the offensiveness of the speech does not turn it into prohibited harassment within the meaning of the university’s policies. We believe that […]

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  • Student Press Law Center and Howard Ziff on Tufts

    June 6, 2007

    In an article on its website yesterday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) discussed Tufts University’s actions against The Primary Source. The SPLC focused on Tufts’ requirement that the paper include a byline with every editorial it prints from now on, putting an end to unsigned editorials. Barbara Grossman, who headed the committee that found TPS guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment, explained in a statement that “The Primary Source can continue to print what it chooses, but it should not have the shelter of anonymity from which to launch hurtful attacks.” Grossman ignores the fact that Tufts’ […]

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  • More Evidence That Tufts Let Bloomberg Down

    June 6, 2007

    As Torch readers know, last month FIRE exposed the fact that Tufts University had punished a student publication, The Primary Source, for “harassment” for running articles criticizing affirmative action policies and Islamic violence. Its punishment is that it is now forbidden to run any unsigned articles—unlike every other publication on Tufts’ campus, and unlike just about every newspaper in America. This sanction makes a lot of sense when you realize that this will make it much easier for future bogus charges of “harassment” at Tufts to be lodged against individuals, instead of just a publication. After all, you can ruin […]

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  • Well, That Was Fast

    May 29, 2007

    A quick update on the Tufts situation: we were just informed by a Torch reader that Tufts has restored the link to the text of Bloomberg’s address, barely more than an hour after our last blog entry. I guess that means they’re watching our blog pretty carefully, so I have this message for Tufts: we’re not going to go away until Tufts lives up to its own promises and restores full freedom of the press to The Primary Source. Publishing a satire is not harassment, and every day that goes by that Tufts stands by this punishment is a slap […]

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  • Tufts Shoves Bloomberg’s Speech Down the Memory Hole

    May 29, 2007

    There is a bit of old advice known as the First Rule of Holes: “When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.” Alas, Tufts University has ignored this adage when it comes to the dispute over the school’s decision to punish a student publication, The Primary Source, for printing a couple of satires (criticizing affirmative action policies and Islamic violence) that offended some people on campus. Tufts took a lot of well-deserved criticism for that decision, but then things got worse: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the commencement address at […]

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  • FIRE on Bloomberg and Tufts in ‘The Huffington Post’

    May 27, 2007

    Popular website ‘The Huffington Post’ has published an open letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg authored by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. Mayor Bloomberg’s recent commencement address at Tufts University praised Tufts for its supposed commitment to free speech—when, in fact, Tufts has recently punished the very students Bloomberg cites for publishing a parody of affirmative action policies and a satirical advertisement critical of Islam. In the letter, FIRE informs Bloomberg that “it appears you have been badly misled by the Tufts administration concerning the university’s respect for free speech in the incident you mentioned.”

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  • Open Letter to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

    May 26, 2007

    Dear Mayor Bloomberg, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was very pleased to see your strong endorsement of the basic principles of free speech in your commencement address at Tufts University last weekend. You may be distressed to learn, however, that it appears you have been badly misled by the Tufts administration concerning the university’s respect for free speech in the incident you mentioned. You said: This past December, The Primary Source—which is a campus magazine—printed some things that much of the community ardently disagreed with and many considered quite offensive. But instead of suppressing the publication (which might […]

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  • Feelings and Freedom of Speech

    May 25, 2007

    In response to the national media attention the recent The Primary Source (TPS) harassment case has attracted, the The Tufts Daily recently ran a piece analyzing the possible long-term implications the decision could have. The article features not only FIRE’s Samantha Harris, but also Stanley Fish, Jon B. Gould, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), and the Anti-Defamation League. As readers of The Torch know, the recent punishment of TPS troubles FIRE. Samantha, in her statement to The Tufts Daily, wrote: The legal definition of harassment in the educational context is conduct ‘so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it […]

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  • Tufts President Bacow Just Doesn’t Get It

    May 22, 2007

    A FIRE supporter wrote to Tufts President Larry Bacow to express his concerns about free speech and academic freedom at Tufts after FIRE exposed the university’s disgraceful decision to punish The Primary Source (TPS) student magazine for harassment for publishing two parodies that offended some people on campus. Below is President Bacow’s response in full: Dear [FIRE Supporter], I believe in freedom of speech and expressed my own views in the attached article that was published in the Tufts Daily. I have no problems with students expressing political opinions however unpopular. That said, they should take responsibility for what they […]

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  • Mayor Bloomberg on Free Speech at Tufts

    May 21, 2007

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the commencement address at Tufts University this weekend. Among his many remarks, he mentioned FIRE’s case at Tufts, where the independent student paper The Primary Source (TPS) was investigated for publishing two satirical articles. Mayor Bloomberg described the incident thusly: This past December, The Primary Source—which is a campus magazine—printed some things that much of the community ardently disagreed with and many considered quite offensive. But instead of suppressing the publication (which might very well have happened on other campuses) and despite the emotion of the moment, I think the students and the […]

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  • Silverglate Defends Parody on Campus in ‘The Phoenix’

    May 17, 2007

    Today’s edition of The Phoenix features a prominent article by FIRE co-founder Harvey Silver and Jan Wolfe detailing the recent censorship of satirical student newspapers at Tufts and Brandeis. At Tufts, as we’ve reported, The Primary Source offended campus sensibilities by publishing two satirical articles—a Christmas carol parody targeting race-based admissions and a mock ad criticizing Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” Tufts dispensed with First Amendment protections of parody—what Silverglate tags an “inherently risky art form”—and found the independent student paper guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment.” At Brandeis, the humor magazine Gravity printed a fake ad for “BlackJerry,” […]

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  • Tufts Case Launches Media and Blogosphere Commentaries

    May 15, 2007

    News of Tufts University’s disregard for freedom of speech and of the press has hit the media and the blogosphereIn addition to our Campus Alert in this week’s New York Post, The Washington Times’ Robert McCain covered the controversy yesterday, including thoughts from FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff: “The students were responding to what they thought was a one-sided and overly rosy depiction of Islam during Islamic Awareness Week,” the FIRE official said. “But is it unprotected harassment? One certainly hopes not, or else ‘harassment’ just became a truly lethal threat to free speech—an ‘exception’ that completely swallows the rule.” The panel’s […]

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  • Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Don’t Joke at Tufts

    May 14, 2007

    Today’s installment of our weekly Campus Alert column in the New York Post focuses on the recent controversy at Tufts University, where conservative student journalists have been found guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” for publishing two satirical articles that offended African-American and Muslim students.Torch readers are undoubtedly familiar with FIRE’s efforts in this case, which began with two satirical articles in The Primary Source (TPS) that are prime examples of controversial yet constitutionally protected speech. First, TPS printed a satirical Christmas carol called “Oh Come All Ye Black Folk,” mocking race-based admissions policies at Tufts. Four months […]

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  • Factual Statements=Unprotected Harassment!? A Terrifying Precedent at Tufts

    May 11, 2007

    Today, FIRE announced the decision by a disciplinary panel at Tufts to find the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, guilty of “harassment” for, among other things, publishing a satirical ad that listed less-than-flattering facts about Islam during Tufts’ Islamic Awareness Week. You can see the ad here, and Eugene Volokh has also published it with excellent commentary over at his blog, but, just to make sure people see the ad for themselves, I have reprinted the full text: Islam Arabic Translation: Submission In the Spirit of Islamic Awareness Week, the SOURCE presents an itinerary to supplement the educational experience. […]

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  • Tufts University Defies Free Press and Punishes ‘The Primary Source’

    May 11, 2007

    Tufts University has displayed a profound disregard for press freedom and its own guarantees to protect controversial and offensive expression. As today’s press release reveals, Tufts’ Committee on Student Life (CSL) released its decision yesterday to punish the conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS). TPS was charged with harassment for publishing two controversial items: “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” a parody of race-based admissions, and “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement targeting Tufts’ Islamic Awareness week. The CSL’s decision was handed down after FIRE wrote to Tufts University and explained that TPS’s articles constituted protected expression under Tufts’ […]

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  • Tyranny at Tufts

    May 11, 2007

    BOSTON, May 11, 2007—Showing profound disregard for free speech and freedom of the press, Tufts University has found a conservative student publication guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for publishing political satire. Despite explicitly promising to protect controversial and offensive expression in its policies, the Tufts Committee on Student Life decided yesterday to punish the student publication The Primary Source (TPS) for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has spearheaded the defense of TPS, is now launching a public campaign to oppose Tufts’ outrageous […]

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  • Tufts Delays Decision on Paper’s Punishment

    May 8, 2007

    Under a barrage of media pressure, the student judiciary at Tufts University has decided to delay their decision about whether satirical political content published by The Primary Source (TPS), a conservative student newspaper, constituted “harassment” and created a “hostile environment.”FIRE was informed yesterday afternoon by the editors of TPS that the decision was not being released yesterday, as previously expected. The notification regarding the delay comes on the heels of last week’s national media attention to the case in the form of a feature on FOX News and an editorial by FIRE in the New York Post. We at FIRE […]

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  • Fox News Covers Censorship Case at Tufts

    May 7, 2007

    Fox News covered FIRE’s case at Tufts University, where The Primary Source (TPS), the independent campus paper, faced a hearing last Monday on charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards. TPS had printed a satirical Christmas carol, “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” and “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement for Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” TPS faces a number of possible repercussions including a campus-wide ban on the paper. The hearing panel is expected to hand down their decision today.

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  • John Leo on Censorship Tactics in ‘The New York Sun’

    May 3, 2007

    Yesterday’s issue of The New York Sun includes a very telling opinion piece by John Leo that looks at the ploys used by university administrators in their efforts to stifle student speech. “It’s not news that the modern university is censorship-prone, particularly when conservatives wish to speak, but the tactics of the censors keep changing,” Leo writes, and Torch readers undoubtedly realize the truthfulness of such an observation. Leo goes on to recount different approaches we at FIRE are all too familiar with, as many of these examples are straight from recent FIRE cases. Leo’s list of censorship devices includes […]

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  • Students Await Tufts’ Ruling on Satirical Articles

    May 1, 2007

    As we reported yesterday, the Tufts University independent conservative student journal The Primary Source (TPS) attended a hearing last night where the university addressed charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards brought against the publication. The hearing was conducted by the Committee on Student Life (CSL)—a panel comprised of faculty and students—and dealt with two complaints lodged by students offended by TPS’ Christmas carol satire last December and the more recent article “Islam—Translation: Submission,” a parody of Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” Last night’s hearing began around 6:30 p.m. and lasted until after midnight. The hearing […]

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  • The Hypocrites at Tufts

    April 30, 2007

    As we reported earlier, Tufts University’s Committee on Student Life (CSL) is holding a hearing today to address charges of harassment, encouragement of hostile environment, breach of community standards, and libel brought against the conservative student paper The Primary Source. The charges stem from two satirical articles printed in the paper, one last December and one just last week. In seeking to punish political satire—the type of speech that lies at the absolute core of the First Amendment—Tufts University is displaying the most despicable hypocrisy. Although Tufts is a private university, and thus is not bound by the First Amendment, […]

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  • Tufts University Puts Newspaper on Trial for Satire

    April 30, 2007

    Today, Tufts University will hold a hearing on charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards brought against the independent student publication The Primary Source. The charges were brought by students who were offended by two articles that ran in the paper over the last few months.   As FIRE’s column in this morning’s New York Post explains, the first of TPS’ alleged misdeeds includes running a satirical Christmas carol last December entitled “Oh Come All Ye Black Folk.” Although TPS runs a Christmas carol parody every year, December’s carol sparked controversy on campus because it […]

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  • Tufts Reacts to Christmas Carol Controversy

    January 22, 2007

    Before Christmas, Tufts University’s conservative newspaper The Primary Source printed its annual satirical Christmas carol, called “O Come All Ye Black Folk.” The carol targeted affirmative action and garnered more criticism than previous carols, with several meetings, a rally, and much media attention following on its heels. The Primary Source has issued an apology for printing the carol and removed the carol from its website, but the full text can be found here. In an article last Thursday, The Tufts Daily reported that Tufts is exploring ways to deal with the fallout from the carol. New initiatives proposed by the […]

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  • The Censors’ Favorite Team

    February 4, 2005

    Tens of millions of people across America will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday night. In a gesture of magnanimity before the big game, those of us at FIRE’s headquarters here in Philadelphia would like to tip our hat to all the New England college administrators we’ve dealt with throughout the years. Not far from New England’s home of Foxboro Stadium near Boston lies Harvard University, home of the Crimson, censorship of business students, and a whole host of due process concerns. Meanwhile, Patriot-supporting administrators at nearby Tufts University in Medford have […]

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  • Free Speech Victory at Tufts University: Charges of “Sexual Harassment” against Student Newspaper Dismissed

    November 27, 2001

    MEDFORD, MA—In a unanimous vote, a hearing panel at Tufts University voted to dismiss charges of sexual harassment against a student newspaper that had satirized a campus student leader. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) advised the paper’s editors and communicated vigorously with the administration on their behalf. Thor Halvorssen, Executive Director of FIRE, said: “We are delighted that Tufts chose not to trample on the principles of free speech. This is a victory for everyone who values genuine pluralism.” In a case that illustrates the threat to liberty posed by speech codes, The Primary Source, a student […]

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  • Victory At Tufts; Evangelical Christian Group Regains Recognition

    May 16, 2000

    MEDFORD, MA—In a unanimous vote, the Committee on Student Life, a faculty and student group that reviews campus judiciary decisions, voted last night to remand the charges against the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF). Thor Halvorssen, Executive Director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been active in advising the students and exposing this case, said: “We are delighted and relieved that the TCF does not have to seek shelter in catacombs beneath the Tufts campus. This is a victory for everyone who values genuine pluralism. Tufts has stepped back, for now at least, from the immorality of […]

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